Jazz Around the World – The Inside Story

Posted in Blog, Jazz, Music with tags , , on Thursday, 12 June 2014, by Stan

джаз филармония холл - © Stan Thomas/Kanale Creations

 

How did Jazz Around the World get started? Well, it wasn’t an intended project. It just evolved into one.

Two years ago I wanted to do something on Facebook in honor of Jazz Appreciation Month. I started out by just posting a link every few days to a video of a few US Jazz musicians. After the first couple of postings, I decided to find a few international Jazz musicians to add to the mix. The feedback I received was positive and motivating.

At the time, the international musicians I featured were those I had heard of before. It was nice ‘revisiting’ them again. By the time Jazz Appreciation Month came to an end, I realized how much I was enjoying posting and watching the videos.

Not long after, an idea began forming, an idea that I could not put out of my head. What if I expanded this? What if I could find Jazz in 30 different countries? What if I could feature a different person or group each day of Jazz Appreciation Month? What if I could turn all of that into an around-the-world journey? Thus was born Jazz Around the World.

Now all I had to do was find another 20 countries. But after thinking about it I realized that I was familiar with artists from at least a dozen more countries. That left only eight or so to reach my goal of 30 countries.

My research began slowly, adding an artist or group once in a while. It began to pick up in earnest around December of 2013. The process led to discovering many new groups and artists. I think that was the best part of this journey.

Along the way I made some unexpected finds. A friend sent me a link last year to a clip of the standard “Four Brothers”. When trying to find that clip again, a group called The Big Friendly Jazz Orchestra appeared in the results. The name caught my attention so I clicked their link. I was blown away by what I saw. It took some digging but I learned that these were high school girls from Japan. I decided to feature them as the closing group on our tour, showcasing them as an example of what today’s youth are doing with Jazz.

One very big surprise was being introduced to Aziza Mustafa Zadeh of Azerbaijan. I woke up one morning and began mentally running through countries that I could include on the tour. At the time I had 29 of them so I only had one left to complete the tour. For some reason Azerbaijan popped into my head. Mustafa Zadeh’s name came up after only a couple of minutes’ worth of research. All I can say is to listen to her. Just listen.

Putting the tour together reacquainted me with groups I hadn’t heard in a long time. Shakatak is one of those groups. It had been nearly a decade since I last heard their music. I remember how much I enjoyed them when they first burst onto the music scene in the early 1980’s. Their music still brings back those memories.

Another thing I experienced was just how versatile these musicians are. Here in the States, we know some artists play at such an advanced level that they are ‘first call’ musicians for many projects, world wide. But once they travel outside the US, we never hear about their collaborations with other musicians. Bassist Richard Bona has an impressive resume chock full of international musicians he has worked with. Because he has worked with so many different artists, that means he is able to play countless different styles of music, not just Jazz. After adding him to our tour, I sat and listened to his music on YouTube for an entire day.

Along those lines, I noticed a handful of US musicians popped up frequently when looking a clips of some of these artists: Chick Corea, Stanley Clarke, Billy Cobham, and Marcus Miller. All of these musicians are on the Jazz Around the World tour.

There were a few road blocks along the way. For the visit to Cameroon, I wanted to feature bassist Guy N’Sangué Akwa. But the only clips available on YouTube were of his solos; no full-length material. Since I couldn’t use any of those videos, I was forced to choose another musician from west Africa. That is how Akwa’s fellow countryman Richard Bona became part of the tour.

Another obstacle was labeling – or lack thereof – of music posted on YouTube. There are many, many videos out there that only list the artist or a genre, but not the title of the song. I found some music that I wanted to feature with the musicians on our tour but could not provide song titles because there weren’t any. Note to those who will post new music videos on youTube: please include the song titles. That way, we can actually buy the music to help support the artist so they can make more music for us to enjoy…and for you to post.

Looking up the music of Christiane Legrand took hours. Among the many groups she sang with was a group called Les Double Six. Les Double Six did not use the same personnel on every track during a recording date. So just picking a song by Les Double Six at random may not be the one on which Legrand sang. Of course, the information on the YouTube clip did not show who sang on which song. Furthermore, the Internet itself did not have any information on who sang on which track. Add to that, the album that introduced me to Legrand in the 1970s is no longer on YouTube.

This project has been as much a labor of love as it has been fun to put together. My hope is that somewhere during the course of this tour around the world of Jazz, you will be introduced to artists you may not be familiar with, and that that will lead you to seek out more more music from that artist.

I would really love to get a grant to do this for real; to visit 52 countries in a year and listen to live Jazz in each of those countries. And, of course, write a blog or series of articles about it so more people can experience just how connected the Jazz world is.

World On the left is a graphic of all the countries we visited on our Jazz Around the World tour.

Jazz Around the World – 1 May – California, United States

Posted in Blog, Jazz, Music with tags , , , , , on Thursday, 1 May 2014, by Stan

джаз филармония холл - © Stan Thomas/Kanale Creations

 

Welcome back to the United States. Unfortunately, here ends the Jazz Around the World tour. I’d like to thank you for joining me on this unique journey. I hope you enjoyed the music as much as I enjoyed sharing it with you. One of my dreams is to put together a real Jazz Around the World tour, hitting all of the major Jazz festivals and some of the smaller clubs.

If your flight does not leave right away, we have one more artist who wants to play for you.

Bassist Joshua Crumbly was only thirteen years old when he played along with his dad, saxophonist Ronnie Crumbly on the CD Like Father, Like Son. Fast-forward to 2014: Josh, a native Californian, is currently touring with Terence Blanchard. A recent graduate of The Julliard School, Crumbly is one of the young lions; definitely one to watch.

 

Trio performance at The Julliard School – “Stablemates”

 

With Beka Gochiashvili – Charlie Parker’s “Confirmation”

 

Bass solo with Terrance Blanchard in St. Louis

 

Map of CaliforniaThank you again for joining me for Jazz Around the World. Support the artists. Buy their music. Go out and see some live Jazz today!

Jazz Around the World – 30 April – Japan

Posted in Blog, Jazz, Music with tags , , , , , , , , , , on Wednesday, 30 April 2014, by Stan

джаз филармония холл - © Stan Thomas/Kanale Creations

 

Welcome to Japan. Our visit coincides with International Jazz Day. Osaka, Japan has been designated the Global Host City so there will be a lot of Jazz being played here today.

Today Jazz Around the World celebrates the ladies of Jazz.

First up is the world renowned pianist/composer Toshiko Akiyoshi. Toshiko has won countless awards, been nominated for 14 Grammys, and published an autobiography. Though she was actually born in China, she moved to Japan when her family returned there in 1945 after the war. Best known for her work with her big band, Toshiko can also be found performing in smaller groups such as trios or quartets. She has been performing for nearly 70 years and is still active. Let’s welcome Toshiko Akiyoshi:

 

With piano trio – “The Third Movement”

 

Solo at her 60th Anniversary concert – “The Village”

 

Toshiko Akiyoshi/Lew Tabackin Big Band – “Harvest Shuffle”

 

 

Our next performer is keyboardist/composer Keiko Matsui. Keiko’s unique blending of eastern and western musical elements defies classification. She discovered saxophonist Paul Taylor, who contributed to several of her albums before he branched on a successful solo career of his own. Please welcome Keiko Matsui:

 

With Branford Marsalis – “Beyond the Light”

 

Forever, Forever

 

Safari

 

 

Coming to the stage now is a group of high school ladies from Takasago High School known as the Big Friendly Jazz Orchestra. I found them last year while looking for a video of the Jazz standard “Four Brothers”. I was so impressed by them and their professionalism, talent, and dedication to their music, that I wanted to have them join our tour. I think you will agree that BFJO is a perfect example of why music needs to be in our schools. Please welcome the Big Friendly Jazz Orchestra:

 

It Don’t Mean a Thing

 

The Way You Look Tonight

 

Four Brothers

 

Map of JapanThank you for joining us here in Japan. I hope you enjoyed the concert. We fly back to the States in the morning. If you have time, we may be able to feature one more artist on our Jazz Around the World tour when we arrive in California.

April is Jazz Appreciation Month. Support the artists. Buy their music. Go out and see some live Jazz today.

Jazz Around the World – 29 April – China

Posted in Blog, Jazz, Music with tags , , , , , , , on Tuesday, 29 April 2014, by Stan

джаз филармония холл - © Stan Thomas/Kanale Creations

 

Welcome to China. We will be staying in Shanghai for both performances. Today we will be treated to performances by Shanghai Jazz and also singer Jasmine Chen.

We’ll get things started today with Shanghai Jazz, but before we do, a little clarification is in order: Shanghai Jazz is not the name of the group; it is the name of album – Shanghai Jazz: Musical Seductions from China’s Age of Decadence. The release features more than twenty young Chinese musicians that are at the cutting edge of a resurgence of Jazz in China. Here, then, are a couple of selections from their latest project:

 

The Old Tea House – Shanghai Shuffle/High Society

 

The Love You Can’t Get

 

 

Coming to the stage now is Jasmine Chen. Ms Chen has a gift for singing both in Chinese and English. Her abilities cover both sides of the world of Jazz in China; she sings classic Jazz tunes with her own Chinese lyrics, and she also reinterprets traditional Chinese folks songs in a Jazz setting. Let’s welcome Ms Jasmine Chen:

 

Summer Samba

 

Give Me A Kiss (With Five Below)

 

Take Five

(You may need to turn up the sound for this one)

 

 

Map of ChinaThank you for joining us here in China. I hope you enjoyed the concert. We’ll meet at the Internet Airport for an overnight flight. Next stop on our Jazz Around the World tour: Japan.

April is Jazz Appreciation Month. Support the artists. Buy their music. Go out and see some live Jazz today.

Jazz Around the World – 28 April – Philippines

Posted in Blog, Jazz, Music with tags , , , , , , , on Monday, 28 April 2014, by Stan

джаз филармония холл - © Stan Thomas/Kanale Creations

 

Welcome to the Philippines. Our lineup today features two greats from different eras.

First we will hear from pianist Roberto Delprado Yulo Enriquez, better known as Bobby Enriquez. Though he is usually associated with the piano, he did play about a dozen other instruments. During his set you will see how he got the nickname “The Wildman”. I was lucky enough to see him perform at the Playboy Jazz Festival back in its infancy. And yes, the nickname fits. Please welcome Bobby Enriquez:

 

Classical Gas

 

Kapantay Ay Langit

 

The Shadow of Your Smile

 

Live at the Village Vanguard with the Ritchie Cole Quintet – “Hi Fly”

 

Next, we’ll hear from Ms Charmaine Clamor. Charmaine can be found gigging around the Los Angeles area…when she is not out touring the world garnering numerous accolades. She is truly becoming a world-class artist. Her sultry voice and impeccable style is winning – and breaking – hearts everywhere. Her brand of music is something she calls ‘Jazzipino’. You have to hear it to understand how she makes Jazzipino work.

We are in for a real treat today: I believe Charmaine will sing for us in three different languages during her set. Ladies and gentlemen, Ms Charmaine Clamor:

 

My Funny Brown Pinay

 

My Harana

 

It Don’t Mean a Thing

 

With Selaelo Selota – “Lolita”

 

Dahil Sa Yo

 

Map of the PhilippinesThank you for joining us here in the Philippines. I hope you enjoyed the concert. We’ll meet at the Internet Airport for an overnight flight. Next stop on our Jazz Around the World tour: China.

April is Jazz Appreciation Month. Support the artists. Buy their music. Go out and see some live Jazz today.

Jazz Around the World – 27 April – Australia

Posted in Blog, Jazz, Music with tags , , , , , , , , on Sunday, 27 April 2014, by Stan

джаз филармония холл - © Stan Thomas/Kanale Creations

 

Welcome to Australia. We’re scheduled today to have a couple of artists stop by and play for us. Plus, we’ll hear from a native of neighboring New Zealand who now makes her home here. In fact, she will open our performances today.

Introducing Maree Steinway:

 

Live – “Bye Bye Blackbird”

 

Live – “Comes Love”

 

Next, we travel back in time a bit to hear the man known as the grandfather of Australian Jazz, Graeme Bell and His Australian Jazz Band:

 

Black and Tan Fantasy

 

Our last group is the Australian Jazz Quintet. We will enjoy two selections from them:

 

Samba de Orfeu

 

Sol Fuego

 

Map of AustraliaThank you for joining us here in Australia. I hope you enjoyed the concert. We’ll meet at the Internet Airport for an overnight flight. Next stop on our Jazz Around the World tour: The Philippines.

April is Jazz Appreciation Month. Support the artists. Buy their music. Go out and see some live Jazz today.

Jazz Around the World – 26 April – India

Posted in Blog, Jazz, Music with tags , , , , , , , , on Saturday, 26 April 2014, by Stan

джаз филармония холл - © Stan Thomas/Kanale Creations

 

Welcome to India. Performing for us today is none other than violinist/composer/conductor Dr. Lakshminarayana Subramaniam, better known as Dr. L. Subramaniam. To friends and family, he is known as simply, “Mani”.

Dr. L. Subramaniam is another artist whose music came to my attention in the late 1970s/early 1980s. He has gained international fame both for his recordings and the global concerts he has put together. He has over 200 recordings under his belt. Also impressive is his collection of different types of violins. And that Dr. title in front of his name? That’s legitimate; he was a registered General Practitioner before he decided to pursue music full time.

 

Please welcome Dr. L. Subramaniam:

 

Motherland

 

From a concert in Moscow – “Time Must Be Changed”

 

With Herbie Hancock – “Inner Peace”

 

Live at Chowdaiah Hall, Bangalore – “Spanish Wave”

 

Live at The Gateway of India. Part of the Lakshminarayana Global Music Festival . With Jean-Luc Ponty and Billy Cobham – “Conversations”

 

 

Map of IndiaThank you for joining us here in India. I hope you enjoyed the concert. We’ll meet at the Internet Airport for an overnight flight. Next stop on our Jazz Around the World tour: Australia.

April is Jazz Appreciation Month. Support the artists. Buy their music. Go out and see some live Jazz today.

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